What are the mechanisms that allow us to fall asleep and wake-up? To switch between REM-sleep and slow-wave sleep, the main phases of sleep? Yang Dan has addressed these questions throughout her career by precisely manipulating sub-networks of neurons involved in the sleep-wake cycle. She will open the symposium with a keynote lecture on the mechanisms for sleep states. Antoine Adamantidis will expand on this theme by sharing the most recent developments of his sleep research.

Sleep states are defined by very specific oscillatory electrophysiological activity (recorded as intra and extra-cranial EEGs). In particular, the cortex exhibits slow oscillations and spindles during slow-wave sleep. Previously thought to be widespread and synchronous, these rhythmic patterns were more recently shown to also occur locally. This suggests that local dynamics of cortical activity is a fundamental property of sleep, which provides important new insights for understanding sleep regulation and function (Vlad Vyazovskyi).

Indeed, one important function of sleep is believed to be the reinforcement of memories for long-term storage. How are specific sleep rhythms and the associated neural activity involved in such function ? Gabrielle Girardeau will present work related to the sleep-dependent consolidation of emotional memories.

While many studies focus on the neuronal processes of sleep, Michele Bellesi will address non-neuronal sleep-related processes by focusing on glial cells, which also undergo profound modifications during sleep.

One of the established role of sleep is the processing (reinforcement, selection, erasing) of recently formed memories. Sleep is thus a phase associated with plasticity. Sara Aton and her group study sleep-related plastic processes in the visual system and the role of the thalamo-cortical slow oscillations in it. Finally, Wenbiao Gan will lead us through the extensive work in his lab done on the plasticity of dendritic spines during learning and subsequent sleep.

To conclude the symposium, Niels Rattenborg, a world specialist of sleep in birds, will give a physiological and evolutionary perspective on sleep in birds and non-mammal species.

Within this neurobiology symposium, we thought it would be interesting and refreshing to have a glimpse on an entirely different perspective on sleep. The symposium will thus host a lecture in humanities : Sasha Handley is a leading historian working on the history of sleep and sleep habits in England. She will give the first humanities lecture of the symposium series, which we hope will become a signature of the annual event.


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